Qianmen anniversary fails to enthuse

Source:Global Times Published: 2010-9-29 9:50:00

A human statue holds tanghulu (candied haw on a stick) during the first anniversary celebration of Qianmen's renovation. Photo: Guo Yingguang

By Yan Shuang

The first anniversary celebration of Qianmen Dajie's reopening after renovation began Tuesday with a festival, but the series of scheduled events failed to draw crowds.

The 18-day festival aims to "bring out the charisma of new Dongcheng" through picture exhibitions, folk art and performances, according to the media department of the Dongcheng district government.

But visitors Tuesday found only a few red banners and picture boards at the end of the street, which failed to capture the interests of many, who left after the opening ceremony.

Some folk artists were also a no-show. Xu Guangye, a Dongcheng district media de-partment employee, said, "I'm not sure when they will show up. Maybe it's because of the wind today. They may come when the weather permits."

An employee of Shengxifu hat store on Qianmen Dajie sat out front, telling the Global Times that she was "displaying their store culture" by showing people how they make hats. However, few were watching, and the woman only handled the hat-making materials when people asked to take pictures.

Drastic renovations to Qianmen Dajie began in 2003, and on September 20 last year, a glossy new version of the 600-year-old street officially opened to the public.

"There used to be nothing but one-story buildings on the street when I moved here in 1954," said a 74-year-old woman surnamed Shi who visited Qianmen Tuesday. "These buildings are all new ones. It's so different after the overhaul."

A man in his 50s shared her opinion. "It's all fake! I'm a Beijinger myself and this is not the Qianmen it used to be!" he proclaimed as he strode briskly.

A Qianmen Dajie Administrative Commission spokesman who insisted on anonymity told the Global Times that they had to do the repairs and rebuilding.

"When you look at pictures of the old Qianmen Dajie and make comparisons with today's, you'll know we are doing the right thing to boost the economy while publicizing the culture and history here," he said.

A couple visiting from Sweden checked out the old pictures of the street and told the Global Times they like the way Qianmen Dajie is now.

"When people are trying to save something they have to renew it, and we understand that it's always difficult to give a historical site 100 percent preservation," said Lars Agert.

"It's good to have a mix of both traditional and modern elements, like here," he said.

Posted in: Society, Metro Beijing

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